Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Home again, home again, dancing a jig

I went home for Thanksgiving...and had a great time. I mean, not only did my Chiefs open up a can o' whup ass on the Denver Donkeys, but I got to hang with family and friends. I swear, I had something going on everyday I was there. Now I need a vacation from my vacation.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Secret Santa

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The answer to one of the happiest mysteries in the Kansas City area is being revealed this year. A man who has given away millions of dollars and become known as Secret Santa for handing out Christmas cash to the needy is allowing his name to be publicized after 26 years.

But the reason for the revelation is an unhappy one. Secret Santa has cancer. He wants to start speaking to community groups about his belief in random acts of kindness, but he can't do that without telling people who he is. The man who has spread cheer for 26 years is Larry Stewart, 58, of Lee's Summit, who made his millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.

Stewart told The Kansas City Star that he was the man who would walk up to complete strangers, hand them $100 bills, wish them "Merry Christmas" and walk away, leaving astonished and grateful people in his wake. He handed out money throughout the year, but he said it was the Christmas giving that gave him the most joy.

Now, he wants to inspire others to do the same. He said he thinks that people should know that he was born poor, was briefly homeless, dropped out of college, has been fired from jobs, and once even considered robbery.
But he said every time he hit a low point in his life, someone gave him money, food and hope, and that's why he has devoted his life to returning the favors.

Stewart grew up in Bruce, Miss., reared by his elderly grandparents, who survived on $33 a month and welfare staples. They heated water on the stove for baths and used an outhouse. After he left home and college, he found himself out of work in 1971. After sleeping in his car for eight nights and not eating for two days, Stewart went to the Dixie Diner in Houston, Miss., and ordered breakfast. When the bill came, he acted as if he'd lost his wallet. The diner owner came to him. "You must have dropped this," the owner said, slipping a $20 bill into the young man's hand.
He paid, pushed his car to the gas station, and left town. But he vowed to remember the stranger's kindness, and to help others, when he could.

He arrived in Kansas City because he had a cousin here. He got married and started his own company, with money from his father-in-law.
But the company failed in 1977 and he couldn't pay the bills. It was the lowest point in his life. "I was a failure in business. I was a failure as a husband. I was a failure as a father," he remembers thinking. He got into his car with a handgun and thought about robbing a store. But he stopped and went home — and got a call from his brother-in-law, offering him money to tide him over.

After being fired from two jobs on two successive Christmases, Stewart stopped at a drive-in. Although he had little money himself, Stewart gave a cold and miserable carhop the change from a $20, much to her delight. That's when Stewart's mission to secretly give away money at the holidays began.

Eventually, Stewart became a success and started Network Communications in 2002. The firm used independent sales agents to enroll customers for Sprint long-distance service. In 1996, an arbitration panel ordered Sprint to pay Network and its sales agents $60.9 million in commissions it owed. Stewart got $5.2 million. The poor boy from Mississippi now had a family, lived in a nice house and drove nice cars.
So, he started giving away more money, to dozens of causes. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The Salvation Army. The National Paralysis Foundation. The ALS Foundation. He supports the Metropolitan Crime Commission's Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment program.
And, all along, he gave away money to needy strangers.

But Christmas was special. He'd distribute thousands of dollars during visits to coin laundries, thrift stores, barbershops and diners.
People shouted with joy, cried, praised the Lord, and thanked Stewart repeatedly. But Secret Santa moved on quickly to avoid attention.
He did sometimes invite newspaper and TV reporters along, if they promised not to reveal his identity. It was reporters who dubbed him "Secret Santa."

In 1989, after some people chased his car when they saw the cash he carried, he decided he needed protection. He called Jackson County Sheriff's Capt. Tom Phillips. "I thought, 'OK, this guy's nuts,'" recalls Phillips, now the Jackson County sheriff. "But at the end of the day, I was in tears — literally — just seeing what he did to people."

Eventually, Secret Santa took his sleigh ride to other places. In 2001, after the terrorist attacks, he went to New York. The New York cop who accompanied him said he'd never forget the experience. In 2002, Secret Santa was in Washington, D.C., victimized by the serial snipers. In 2003, it was San Diego neighborhoods devastated by wildfires. And in 2004, he was in Florida, helping thousands left homeless by three hurricanes.

Last Christmas, Secret Santa went back to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast. He stopped in Houston, Miss., where the diner owner had helped him so many years ago. On a previous visit he had surprised the owner, Ted Horn, with $10,000. This time, they stamped $100 bills with the name "Ted Horn," and gave Horn money to distribute. And Horn took money from his own bank account to give away, too. Stewart has enlisted "elves" for years — George Brett, the late Buck O'Neil, Dick Butkus. He's already inspired copycats. Four other Secret Santas plan to distribute a total of $70,000 of their own cash this year.

And Secret Santa plans to give away $100,000 this year. Since he started, he estimates he's given out more than $1.3 million in Christmas cash.
But this will likely be the last Christmas for Stewart's tradition. In April, doctors told Stewart that he had cancer of the esophagus. It had spread to his liver. He needed treatment, fast.

With help from Brett, he got into a clinical trial at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Doctors tell him the tumors have shrunk, but they can't say whether the cancer is in remission. "I pray for that man every single day," former Kansas City Chiefs star Deron Cherry — one of Stewart's elves — says. "There's a lot of people praying for him."

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Eating government cheese down by the river

This past Saturday will go down as one of the best days in memory. We didn't really have a plan for the day, except we wanted it to be cheap. Much discussion had gone on the night before between Dawn and I about how we're spending too much money lately...which is not such a good idea when you're unemployed like I am.

About 10 am, I met up with Dawn and Mark and we headed to Golden to take the short tour at Coors aka "The Mother Ship." The short tour is flippin' awesome: just walk in the door, get your i.d. scanned, take the elevator to the second floor, hang a left to the tasting room and enjoy your three free beers while making fun of the tourists. L-o-v-e the short tour. Free beer is good beer.

The day started off kind of gray and cold which put a slight damper on our plan for a picnic down by the river. So, we headed to our favorite standby in Golden, The Buffalo Rose ( to check out the band, while keeping an eye on the weather. A few Keystone Lights (on special for $1.25) later and the clouds broke, the sun came out and it was nothing but blue skies... Picnic on, baby!!

Just a few minutes down the road and we were on the banks of Clear Creek, scouting the best place to set up. Mark found some great flat rocks and declared it was the perfect spot. We all sat down and dug in the cooler...for some wine (out of real glass glasses, no plastic here!), blackened ahi tuna, grilled shrimp, Swiss cheese, pickeled jalapenos, and peanuts. De-lish!! We kept joking about us having a 'white-trash, cheap weekend' with blackened tuna and grilled shrimp instead of government cheese in a van, down by the river.

After a few glasses of wine and several handfuls of peanuts, Dawn and I decided we should have a peanut shell boat race. We spent the next few minutes shelling peanuts and looking for the best boats. After we were both satisfied with our picks, we headed upstream from the rapids and let them go. It was a close race, but in the end, both shell boats capsized and went down the rapids upside down. Dawn was yelling "Peanut down! Peanut down!" as she was hopping from rock to rock to track them...right before she hit a slick one and almost went down herself. She just ended up soaking herself up to her shins and almost pulling Mark in with her. After realizing both boats were lost, we shelled more peanuts and did it all over again. This time, Mark got in on the action.

In the end, there were no surviviors from the 1st Annual MDT Peanut Shell Regatta, but I expect there to be a lot more entries next year.

All in all, it was a great day. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, beautiful friends... You can't ask for more than that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Seven words

As a going away gift, my sister gave me seven words. Seven words, boldly painted in burgandy on a canvas of fading shades of sage green. Seven words silently spoken from one sister to another:
She believed
she could,
so she did.
Seven words as a reminder to always believe in myself. Seven words to inspire me to dream new dreams. Seven words to remind me of my inner strength. Seven words meant to soothe my ocassional self-doubts. Seven words to hang on the wall of my new bedroom in my new city. Seven words given as an expression of faith from one sister to another.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Super Girl

I'm pretty sure if I had a cape
and a tiara I could save the world.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two-Month Update (aka: State of the kcterrilynn Address)

I'm here...I'm need to send out a search party...wait, seriously, who'm I kidding, saying no to a party? As long as there are cocktails, I guess a search party is okay. I'll bring the ice.

  • Don't believe the crap about horrible Denver winters. One day, 10 inches of snow and a snow day for grown-ups, next day, sunshine and no snow in sight.
  • Park in downtown Denver at your own risk. If the parking Nazi's catch the shadow of your car on the dividing line between two parallel parking spaces it'll cost you $20. Just ask me about it and I'll be glad to tell you. Using various bad words. Words that make my mother give me the 'look.' (Sorry, Mere, but it fuckin' pissed me off!)
  • (This one's for you, Chris) Of my own free will, I've started drinking Coors Light. On tap. I don't know if it's because I'm poor or if there's some subliminal thing going on, but it's true.
  • I've also started drinking PBR (but not PBR in a can). I know. You don't need to say it. I blame Matt. He puts a lime in it and calls it a PBRona. And it's not horrible.
  • In KC I didn't make my bed for weeks (months...okay, years) at a time, but since I moved, I'm making the damn thing every morning. What the hell is that about? (It's true, Mom, don't think I can't see you shaking your head.)
  • Slowly but surely I'm finding my way around. I know which highways lead me to downtown (work), Arvada (home), Golden (drinking), or Boulder (shopping). You know, the important things in life.
  • I now recoginze my car with Colorado plates and no longer pass by it in parking lots. Hell, I even cussed out a driver from Missouri last week for cutting me off. (Not that that's any different from living in KC...Kansas drivers cussed out Missouri drivers all the time. And vice versa.)
  • I've never seen so many hot, scruffy, Harley riding men in all my life. Nor have I seen so many hot, bald, Harley riding men in all my life. Not to mention all the hot, long-haired, hippie, tree loving, granola men and the hot, clean-cut, college preppy types. Damn, there are good-looking men everywhere! Seriously, all you ladies should come to Denver. Plenty o' eye-candy. Or I could be oxygen starved into thinking all the guys are hot.
  • After months of enjoying smoke-free clubs, I spent last Friday night at the only bar in Denver where you can smoke inside...a strip club called PT's. (It was Matt's birthday and his call on where we celebrated.)
  • A first: I wore a do-rag in public. And looked damn good, if I do say so myself.

All in all, things are going okay. And kcterrilynn is alright. Sad sometimes, happy sometimes, drunk sometimes. It's just like home.